THE boss of on of Britain’s biggest car dealers – and a former Whitchurch schoolboy – has told of his experiences of going back to the “coal face” as he prepares to appear in a new TV series.

Robert Forrester, who attended Sir John Talbots and whose family still lives in the area, recently took part in the new series of Undercover Big Boss.

The show involves the top brass of some of the UK's biggest firms donning disguises and taking hands-on roles within their companies.

Bristol Street Motors is one of the UK's largest car dealerships, and for his episode – which airs on August 12 – Robert found out what it was like to be involved in the nitty-gritty aspects of the business.

"Obviously I was in heavy disguise," said Robert.

"I was actually pretending to be a university lecturer looking for a different career, you had to explain why you had a camera crew with you.

"I did all sorts of things, selling cars, vans, adviser roles and valeting too.

"We actually went to Ellesmere to my mum's house where we pretended to be inquiring about cars.

"That was actually lovely to be able to spend time with my mum."

Although he lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne now, Robert grew up in Whitchurch and is still involved with his old school.

"I went to Whitchurch juniors, then went to Sir John Talbot's, then off to Oxford University after that," Robert added.

"A lot of my school friends are still in Whitchurch, I have an auntie in Prees and of course my mum lives in Ellesmere.

"And I am still a trustee of Marches Academy Trust, who run SJT."

Although Robert did not found Bristol Street Motors, he helped purchase the business in 2007 and has since seen it grow to employ 6,000 people. It has more than 150 dealerships.

"In late 2006 we set a company up, we didn't actually have a business and floated it on the stock exchange," added Robert.

"The following March we bought Bristol Street, that was 33 dealerships, from scratch.

"Today we employ 6,000 people and have 154 dealerships, representing almost every manufacturer.

"We've grown quite a big business, Although Bristol Street is Midlands-based, we have brands in Scotland and we go all the way down to Kent."

Robert says working on the showroom floor was a 'learning experience' and having a TV crew throughout the whole day was 'exhausting'.

"You always learn something, my biggest finding was that valeting was hard work," he added.

"It's just really hard work making a tv show, having a makeup artist in your bedroom first thing in the morning and having been mic’d up all day.

"But what a great opportunity to spend time in the business, meet people on the shop floor.

"And the disguise worked 99 per cent of the time.

"The bulk of people had no idea at all, and some of the managers only noticed when I was up close.

"I suppose they were not expecting to see me in disguise!"

Robert’s episode will be shown on ITV, on Thursday, August 12 at 9pm